IDFA Recognizes Wisconsinite’s Leadership

The International Dairy Foods Association is recognizing the “remarkable leadership” of Dan Zagzebski, the president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese. The honor includes the IDFA Laureate Award during the association’s annual Dairy Forum.

Now in its third year, the IDFA Laureate Award is given to a leader in the dairy industry who has made significant, prolonged contributions to the development and growth of dairy. Candidates from across the dairy industry as well as suppliers and academics are eligible, and the awardee is chosen by a panel of industry professionals.

Zagzebski has been with Great Lakes Cheese for 15 years and has lead the company since 2015. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience. His focus on infrastructure and innovation has enabled the company to be a leader in cheese packaging and manufacturing in the U.S. Prior to his current role, Zagzebski held various positions of increasing responsibility, including COO and vice president of sales and product development. He joined the company when Great Lakes Cheese purchased Lemke Cheese and Packaging in Wausau, where he was co-owner and CEO.

“Dan has brought smart growth, a commitment to innovation, and a mindset of giving back to his employees and communities wherever Great Lakes Cheese is located,” says IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes. “He is an exemplary leader who has made a lasting impact not only for Great Lakes Cheese, but for the dairy industry more broadly.”

Dykes notes that as chair of the IDFA Executive Council, Zagzebski oversaw the transformation of IDFA’s governance model and transition to a more inclusive organization representing the entire dairy supply chain. This is an example of his many contributions to the growth of the dairy industry, Dykes says.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” says Zagzebski. “I share this award with my Great Lakes Cheese family and our owners, the Epprecht Family. Thank you to everyone involved in the dairy industry for creating a unified community where all of us can feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Also receiving the award is Ed Mullins, senior executive officer of Illinois-based Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.

Previous recipients of the IDFA Laureate Award are Sue Taylor, vice president of dairy economics and policy for Leprino Foods Company (2021), and Andrei Mikhalevsky, former president and CEO of California Dairies, Inc. (2020).